Saturday, September 04, 2010
Moving MannyPosted by Jeffrey Gross
Though I had some harsh words for White Sox management earlier this week over the Jim Thome/Manny Ramirez situation (said words seem to be mostly aimed at Ozzie Guillen, the brainchild of the rotating DH, but I still hold the GM ultimately responsible for giving such deference to his manager), I nonetheless noted that " [w]ithout question, the Manny move is an upgrade for the White Sox."
The question I seek to answer today is how much value Manny should prospectively provide the Pale Hose. Dave Cameron saw the difference between Manny and Mark Kotsay as worth about 8.0 runs per about 100 plate appearances. What I am going to do is take Manny’s numbers at Dodgers Stadium and attempt to translate them over into the AL for the White Sox.
As a preemptive disclaimer (given past experiences), these translations tend to be more theoretical than actual, forming a baseline around which statistical noise and random luck oscillate around. Over a meager 30 game sample, anything is possible.
For the Dodgers, Manny hit .312/.407/.508 (.915 OPS) with 15 doubles, no triples and 8 homers over 196 AB/232 PA. His NL BABIP of .348 is .028 points ahead of what his expected BABIP (xBABIP) is, a mark of .320, given his batted ball profile playing for Los Angeles. This xBABIP-BABIP split represents a difference of four hits for Manny. If we adjust Manny’s 2010 triple slash line for the Dodgers, optimistically assuming all four subtracted hits would have only been of the singles variety, Manny’s theoretical luck-neutral line for the Dodgers "falls" to .291/.390/.490 (.880 OPS). That line would represent 57.0 hits over 196 AB, distributed as 34.0 singles, 15.0 doubles and 8.0 home runs.
Now that we have a neutralized Dodgers line to work with, we need to translate Manny's triple-slash components from the Dodgers to the White Sox. First, we need to translate the BABIP, again assuming that all hits added/subtracted would have only been of the singles variety. Next, we will need to translate the walk and hit-by-pitch
rate between parks (case studies, such as this one, shows that certain factors, such as temperature and humidity, affect control rates between ballparks). Finally, we will need to translate the hits-type rates between ballparks.
According to THT's "top secret" park factor data (henceforth referred to generically as "park factor data"), Dodgers Stadium has a four-year BABIP index of 1.00265724. Likewise, U.S. Cellular Field has a BABIP index of 0.97111976. That may seem strange at first glance, given that Dodgers Stadium is more of a pitcher's park (-10% effect on runs production, per Baseball-Reference) and U.S. Cellular Field is more of a hitter's park (+8.0% effect on runs production, per Baseball-Reference). However, a glance at the park factor data indicates that the dimensions of U.S. Cellular Field only tend to exaggerate home run (+21.3% HR/FB% index) production at the expense of all other hit outcomes (-0.7% 1B index, -5.6% 2B index, -18.3% 3B index). U.S. Cellular Field's flyball oriented park dimensions come paired with higher-than-average flyball and pop-up rates, two ball-in-play (BIP) types with low expected hit outcomes (xH). Dodgers Stadium, meanwhile tend to yield more groundballs (.237 xH) and less pop-ups (.008 xH)).
Taking Manny's luck-neutral xBABIP of .320 for the Dodgers and multiplying it by one-half of the U.S. Cellular Field BABIP index and dividing it by one-half of the Dodgers Stadium index reveals a translated xBABIP of .315. This additional .005 point drop in BABIP would result in the loss of another hit from Manny's season (again, keeping the PA rate constant). Optimistically assuming this subtracted hit would have only been a single, Manny's expected triple-slash line for the White Sox only takes a slight tumble: .287/.384/.486 (.870 OPS).
Park factors also reveal that a move from Dodgers Stadium to U.S. Cellular Field would have a favorable impact on Manny's already elite on-base percentage. According to the park factor data, the half-country move would result in a +2.51% impact on a hitter's walk total while simultaneously making that hitter 12.45% more likely to be hit by a pitch. Applying these numbers to Manny's walk totals (32) and hit-by-pitch totals (1) with the Dodgers gives us a new, translated total of 32.8 and 1.1. Applying these numbers to Manny's AB total and OBP, we get a new adjusted triple-slash line of .287/.387/.486 (.873 OPS) -- not too much of a difference with on-base factors considered, but a slight OBP bump nonetheless.
Finally, in a translation from Los Angeles to Chicago, we need to adjust Manny's prospective power output to account for park factor differences. For the Dodgers, Manny posted a HR/FB% of 14.0% (57 FB) over 236 PA. Technically, the statistically significant HR/FB rate threshold for hitters is 300 PA, but for the sake of simplicity, let's pretend that the 14.0% mark represents what Manny is capable of on the season. Before we translate the home run numbers, we must consider weighted play time effects. A hitter only plays one-half of his games at home, assuming he plays all 162 games his team plays in a season. Manny was no exception in Los Angeles, accruing 50.5% of his total at-bats at home. For the sake of simplicity, I am going to weight the park factors for both parks by a 1/2 step.
A move from Dodgers Stadium to U.S. Cellular Field (PF_USCF/PF_DS) would first have the following impacts on Manny's numbers:
*No impact on Manny's flyball rate
*A 0.978029562 singles index (0.989014781 impact)
*A 0.964803037 doubles index (0.982401519 impact)
*A 1.031384918 triples index (1.015692459 impact)
*A 1.19796759 HR/FB% index (1.098983795 impact)
Applying the half-step of these indicies, as indicated in parenthesis above, to Manny's adjusted numbers, we find that over a 232 PA/195 AB (recall, the AB total had to be modified slightly to reflect the minor change in walk rates and HBP rates between parks) Manny would be expected to produce 32.8 singles, 14.7 doubles, 0.0 triples, and 8.8 home runs.
All of the above considered, Manny would have an expected triple-slash line of .289/.389/.499 (.888 OPS) playing for the White Sox.
Those numbers are quite good, albeit a down-step from Manny's career OPS of exactly 1.000, and represent a substantial upgrade over Mark Kotsay's line of .237/.311/.385 (.695 OPS) for the White Sox. Manny should post around 100 or so PA for the White Sox in his brief tenure on the South Side of Chicago, so cutting Manny's total expected numbers, above, in half should yield a reasonable forecast of what White Sox fans should expect in September (in terms of absolutes): about 4-5 home runs, 16-17 walks, 56-57 hits and plenty of Manny-being-Manny moments.
Jeffrey Gross is an attorney (and die-hard Cubs fan) who currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago. In addition to writing for The Hardball Times, he also writes about craft beer as part of a side project blog titled "saBEERmetrics." He previously worked for The Daily Illini and Northern Star newspapers as a film critic and sportswriter (respectively). You can reach him by email at saBEERmetrics AT gmail DOT com.